“Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” – Matthew 4:8-10
Most of us are familiar with the story of Jesus being tempted by the devil in the wilderness. (Matthew 4). But do we actually know what Satan meant when he asked Jesus to worship him? What did Satan actually want and expect Jesus to do? Was it to sing him a song and dance before Him? Was it to prostrate on all fours before him?
For us to answer this, we need to know the true definition of worship. So how do we personally define worship? What is worship and what isn’t worship? Our personal concepts and beliefs of worship must align with what the Scriptures say. If our definition of worship does not match with the Scriptures, then we have a big problem.
How do we know if we’ve actually worshipped God or if we haven’t? How do we actually define worship?
What Worship is Not
Christians have great difficulty in admitting that most of us do not worship very well. If God defines worship as rolling on the ground, and jumping as high as you can jump after that and dancing, for a lot of us, we would simply say “ I can’t do that!” or “That’s just not my personality. I’m very sorry God.” And this is NOT worship. Worship is not about how we want to express our worship to God. It’s not about how we FEEL we should worship God. We need to understand that worship is not about the one giving worship, it’s about the One who is being worshipped.
Many times our corporate services degenerate into a formality, and that is because of us. We can become very formal and the service becomes devoid of vitality and spiritual life because it’s just formality. If we put boundaries and hard fast rules, then it takes what worship really consists of, which is the spontaneity of it. Worship is NOT about rules and the time period. It’s all about the quality of the experience that we have.
When we go to the Word of God and we look at worship in Scriptures, it is always primarily a celebration of God, and not a celebration of ourselves. Worship is not about us feeling good. It’s about God receiving pleasure from us. We have to understand this basic reality: that in God making man, He made man for a purpose. He never made us for ourselves. God never designed and created man for himself. He made us primarily for the purpose of worshipping Him.
This is why Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:12 that we should be to the praise of His glory. We also find in Colossians 1:16 that all things were created by him and for Him, and in Revelation 4:11, we discover that we were created by God first and foremost to be to His glory and praise, to minister to Him, and to bring Him pleasure.
If we are not doing these things, then we are not worshipping Him. We are denying the purpose of why He created us and we are denying worship. Why? Because life’s highest purpose is offering up to God our worship — our adoration, our love, our respect, and homage to Him. Worship is not about the songs that we sing. It’s about our attitude where we become true worshippers.(John 4:23)
What Worship Truly is
Technically speaking, worship comes from the Old English word that means “worth”ship. It means: What is the worthiness of a person or a thing? Or how much worth do we put on a person or thing?
Therefore, when we are worshipping, it has to do with the worthiness of the one you are worshipping. Worship is concerned with the worthiness of God and not the worthiness of the worship or worshipper. To worship is to adore, to admire, to esteem, to exalt, to love, to magnify, to regard, to admire, to respect, to revere, to reverence, and to venerate God.
The bottomline foundation of worship is always LOVE POURED OUT. (Matthew 22:37) True worship is recognizing that God, who is love Himself, has to have a love object and it’s US. And so He is pouring out His love toward us, and worship is us responding to His love that He has poured in us by the Holy Spirit. So basically, love has to do with worship.
Worship is us responding to God’s love. If the foundation of worship is love and responding to God’s love being poured out on us, we can say that worship is love that releases our spirit, love that expresses all of our soul and mind, and love that utilizes all of our body’s strength. Worship comes from an understanding of God’s love being poured out and of the new covenant relationship that we have with God. Worship in the new covenant relationship is an invitation by God to touch and to kiss (Song of Solomon 1:2), to be intimate and to be one with Him.
So going back to the question. What did Satan want Jesus to do when he asked Him to worship him? It’s safe to suggest that Satan wanted Jesus to fall down, bow down, and convey in His actions that He is the lesser, who is blessing the greater — because that is worship: the lesser blessing the greater. (but Jesus knew that there’s no one greater than God and therefore only God must be worshipped. Matthew 4:10)
The questions we need to ask ourselves now are: How much do we love God? And how much worth do we put on God?